The WordPress Experience

I enjoyed creating a blog with WordPress because the site does most of the work for you, although there is an option to customize your own text code it’s nice to have the option to just drag/drop or select pre-coded elements.

I do wish that WordPress.com had the same [shortcode] options as WordPress.org because those provided more PlugIn integration and customization of a site.

I am grateful for the experience because it’s something I can add to my resume, even though this wasn’t a professional project having a greater proficiency in WordPress could be a selling point with future employers, especially those who use WP free domains to sell their products or interact with customers. I also have plans to create a new blog for my succulent business, as I intend on selling them while I travel. I hope to have a travel site to journal my experiences in my portable tiny-house with a separate page for my crafts, succulents, and micro-greens that I will be growing and selling during long journeys.

stats

As far as the statistics of my blog, the beginning of March was the most popular for my site.

My post about potting succulents and choosing the right succulents were my most popular, with 23 views each. I felt as though these two were the most popular because they had topics that most beginner succulent gardeners tend to search for as well as bright, fun visuals. I also tagged other garden blogs in these posts, which brought more viewers to my site.

I was most surprised by the amount of visitors and viewers I had on my site, with a total of 63 visitors and over 90 views. Most of which came from WordPress subscribers themselves and followers from other blogs that I mention frequently. I was anticipating maybe 20 individuals looking at my content (with myself checking in on multiple computers being the primary contributor to that). I didn’t expect so many people to click on my links or take an interest in my information. A pleasant surprise, that one was!

Most of my readers are from the United States, but I am happy to say I reached a small audience in the United Kingdom and the Philippines. I would like to assume that’s due to my “Choosing the Right Succulent” post that discusses growing plants in non-arid environments. I hope that as I continue to build new sites, that I can reach a broader audience but I may have to use WP.org so I can code in language translators and other options for readers abroad! I’m exciting to see what the future of WordPress holds for me! 🙂

Water-Rooting Succulents

 

Water-rooting a succulent is usually advised against, but if you’ve recently found a new plant or grown a new propagation that has thin, wispy, or just plain wimpy roots then this may be a good option for you!

This Reddit post demonstrates that certain succulents root better in water than they do in soil, which is awesome because there are a few plants I’ve come across that don’t propagate by simply neglecting them (as most succulents do).

Apartment Therapy also encourages water rooting, especially if you have limited space for your garden and want to add a pop of green to your kitchen.

Personally, I like to use water rooting for the plants I find (or grow myself) that have thin, hair-like roots. Even though I do the best I can with keeping my plants big and strong, sometimes you just can’t control how much water or sunlight a single plant gets compared to the rest.

This technique is also ideal if you have long, thin planters (like my tin can pictured above) and want your succulent to grow securely within your chosen container. Especially if your planter is vertical or a wall-mounted planter like this one.

I’ve found that cleaning off the plants roots entirely and then placing them in a bottle filled 3/4 of the way full with clean water is a great home for challenging succies. You just have to be sure that the water is barely touching the roots of your succulent. Evaporation and your succulents roots will work on their own to grow your plant. You DO NOT want to leave your succulent soaking, unless you want a dead succulent!

Keep an eye on the water level, be sure to refill as necessary. Here’s a visual for ya:

rootcup_instructions_3_1024x1024
Photo by: Shopify

 

Still skeptical? Here’s a before and after photo of a plant that I recently water rooted (about three months ago) and then placed on my front porch to soak up the sun.

If you look closely, you can see that the image on the right has more leaves and there are less spaces between the leaves. This is a good sign that my succulent is happy and healthy.

As long as you pay close attention to your plant’s roots, you should be able to avoid accidentally rotting your plant and have some great results!

Propagation Station

These are Sedum rubrotinctum “Aurora” commonly referred to as “Pink Jelly Bean” succulents. These plants grow in large, thick leaves that are typical among most sedum plants. They are highly drought resistant and are known for propagating easily and quickly. Pictured below are some succulents that I’ve had propagating for barely two months. It is only a matter of time before stems start to grow from the base of these “mother leaves” and I can re-pot my propagations into individual planters. By September, I should have a miniature version of the plant these leaves originated from. If you scroll through these photos you can watch as the leaves of the new plant grow in size and number!

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If you’ve never propagated before, and you need some assistance on getting started, check out this Instructables post about building a prop tray!

Texas Native Plants

Texas is a vast state, with numerous different geographical landscapes and climates in every region. As Texas makes up the majority of the U.S. South, there are countless plants that are native to this area from grasses to flowers to cacti, and much more.

Texas’s main hardiness zone is Zone 9, where temperatures can reach the mid 100’s in summer and drop down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower in the winter. This can make growing plants here a challenge, as some of the beautiful species that flourish here in the summer time are susceptible to freezing in the winter. If you want to find plants that will survive in your Texan home throughout the year, you’ve come to the right place!

Another benefit to growing native plants is that some counties will offer tax deductions for nurturing native grasses or plants, although you may not get to choose which ones you can grow for this perk. It all depends on the local regulations, but it’s definitely worth looking into if you want to start a garden and benefit your local community at the same time!

There are several types of sage that grow in Texas, all with different colored blooms that arrive around the Spring and stay until the end of Summer.

 

If you’re looking for larger blooms, Texas also sprouts up multiple species of daisy that vary in size. As they say “everything’s bigger in Texas,” and ‘they’ meant the flowers, too!

However, if you don’t like waiting all year for your plants to flower, or maybe you don’t have a preference for flowers at all…there are various agave that are native to Texas and Mexico that can withstand harsh winter frosts.

To find more native plants, check out the Native Plant Society of Texas to learn about your region and how to quickly grow wildflowers on your property.

If you’re interested in purchasing Texas native plants, Plant Delights has a vast selection with reasonable pricing to get your new landscaping adventures underway.

 

Building an Arrangement

Arid plants come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. This makes them ideal for arrangements, especially in event bouquets or center pieces. They’re also great because you can keep them, re-pot them after use, and watch those plants continue to grow. Other flowers require clipping and usually cannot be replanted after they’ve been used in a bouquet. With succulents, you don’t need to worry about preserving or drying out your bouquet to enjoy it for years to come.

outdoor arrangement
Several plants I saved and planted together to make an arrangement.

 

But where do you start? With so many options, it’s hard to decide.

The beauty of succulents is that for the most part, they all require similar care. Although some may need more shade than others, virtually all drought-resistant plants only need to be watered once a week. This eliminates the fear of building an arrangement and half of the plants rotting or drying up from improper care. 

The primary concern when beginning with arrangements is having a healthy variety of plants. Succulents come in so many textures, shapes, sizes, and colors that its almost unfair to have just echeveria or just sedum in one arrangement. Don’t be afraid to buy a couple spiky, alien-like haworthia and throw them in a pot with soft, fuzzy panda plants. Mix colors, or create a monochrome palette. Its all up to you!

chalk sticks succulent
One of my first arrangements with various plant textures and colors.

One of my favorite parts of making arrangements is finding a container, whether it’s an old cookie tin or a beautifully crafted clay pot…sometimes a unique planter is all you need to inspire creativity. For example, pictured above is one of my first arrangements and I chose a variety of colored plants to accent the colors on a piece of pottery I had. Like I said before, it’s all up to you!

So get out, shop around, swing by some garage sales or thrift stores. Find something that truly inspires, fill it with some personally chosen plants, and find your new piece of art a sunny spot to rest.

The Savage Succulent is a great Instagram profile to visit if you want inspiration for your next project, they also have plant and pottery give-away contests on occasion so keep an eye out and you may win your next favorite plant!

Choosing the Right Succulent

Echeveria "Fred St. Ives"

As someone who has lived all over the world,  I know that choosing the right plants for your climate can be a challenge, especially if you’re new to the neighborhood. So what do you do if you live in a foggy, overcast region like the Northwestern United States? Or if you just moved to an area with annual heavy rain seasons like Southeastern Asia? Should this prevent you from starting that succulent and cactus garden that you’ve always wanted? Absolutely not!

First, let’s start by figuring out which “hardiness zone” you live in. This will help you find information about climate and the plants that thrive best in your area. If you’re located in the United States, I recommend using the U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Map.

homepage_map
Photo from: planthardiness.ars.usda.gov

Once you’ve located your hardiness zone, you can go into depth with your research about the climate and which plants will thrive in that area. Hardiness zones allow gardeners to know the maximum and minimum temperatures of their region, so they can determine if they need to protect their plants from frost or overbearing sunlight depending on the season. I’ve searched the ends of the Internet to find that most succulents survive in hardiness zones 3 through 9. Luckily, these zones make up the majority of the United States with the exception of Alaska and Puerto Rico.

Here are a few succulents that do well virtually anywhere in America:

  • Sempervivum “Hen and Chicks”
  • Sempervivum arachnoideum
  • Sedum
  • Jovibarba (Hirta) “Rollers”
  • Jovibarba heuffeli “King of Hen and Chicks”
  • Agave

If you live in warmer, tropical climates like in Hawaii or Florida (Zones 10 and 11) these succulents are better options:

  • Kalanchoe thyrsiflora “Paddle Plant”
  • Aeonium arboreum “Tree Aeonium”
  • Sedum morganianum “Donkey Tail”/”Burro’s Tail”
  • Euphorbia tirucalli “Firesticks”

However, keep in mind that even though these succulents are ideal for your climate that succulents do not like heavy rain or frost and should be moved indoors during wet and/or cold seasons.

I’ve learned that growing indoors is best during winter, especially if your area tends to get a lot of rain or heavy winds during the colder season. I purchased a grow lamp and have kept my garden thriving in my kitchen window all winter. I’ve even managed to propagate under artificial light, which was quite a happy surprise!

leafclip
Photo by: Selina Quick

If you choose to plant your succulents in containers, I recommend unglazed terracotta pots (like those pictured below) for most climate regions. Terracotta clay is porous which makes it easier for water to pass through it. This improves the drainage of soil and helps prevent over-watering as the extra water will pass through the clay and evaporate into the air.

 

terracotta
Photo by: Selina Quick

Many garden centers also sell planters and flower pots that are glazed or “frost-resistant.” These are ideal for colder climates or plants that may require more moisture. For succulents, make sure your pots have large drainage holes so extra water can drain out instead of flooding your plant’s roots. If you find a container that you absolutely love and it doesn’t have drainage holes, fret not! The Succulents and Sunshine is to the rescue with their guide on watering in closed containers. I currently use the S&S method for my little glazed cups (pictured below).

glazed pots
Photo by: Selina Quick

Once you figure out which hardiness zone you are in, finding succulents best suited for you becomes much easier! Keep in mind there are numerous “common” succulents that are very resilient and will survive in most conditions, so even if you’re having a hard time finding information, there are still plants out there meant just for you. If you’re worried that the weather isn’t ideal for your succulents, you can always start your garden indoors and slowly move outside as you gain more confidence with your green babies. There are also several build-your-own green house options out there! Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty or ask questions, most fellow gardeners are more than happy to help others nurture nature!

Honorable Mention: Succulents & Sunshine

www.succulentsandsunshine.com

When I began my succulent garden, it was a challenge to find resources that had extensive, reliable information. I wanted to identify my plants, learn how to properly care for them and successfully propagate. I did endless amounts of research but still made rookie mistakes like lining the bottoms of my planters with gravel and accidentally over-watering a few plants. After throwing away a handful of beautiful plants that I had mercilessly destroyed with improper care, I was ready to give up on my new found passion.

sslogo

Eventually I stumbled upon Cassidy Tuttle’s blog, www.succulentsandsunshine.com, and she helped me save my plants before I gave up entirely on succulents. I knew my end goal was to have a large garden and I had to start with plants that were easy to propagate.

Cassidy’s post about succulents that were easiest to re-grow provided me with the information I needed to get my garden started. Two Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’ and six Sedum morganianum later I was officially a novice succulent collector. I have since propagated and successfully re-planted over ten plants in the past two months. That may not seem like much, but as a chronic cactus killer, it’s quite the achievement.

I appreciate Cassidy’s blog because she offers such a vast amount of advice. It is surprisingly hard to find sites that cover more than one topic in-depth, but Cassidy goes so far as to offer a variety e-Books for her readers. She is particularly great at perfecting the indoor garden, something that most gardeners would avoid with plants that require regular direct sunlight. Her recommendations for different tools and growing methods have helped me with my indoor succulents and propagation trays. The succulent pups pictured below were grown completely indoors with limited natural light, but are healthy and happy due to Cassidy’s instructions.

She also has great images that make you want to steal clippings from her garden. I highly recommend her site, especially if you’re a beginner or have unique questions about your plants that other sites haven’t managed to answer for you.

The Terrarium Fad

Terrariums have made a significant comeback recently as succulents and other hardy house plants have increased in popularity.

Indoor Wardian Case
Indoor Wardian Case (Photo by: http://www.terrariums.net)

What many people don’t know, however, is that terrariums have been used since 500 B.C. when plants were kept indoors in bell-shaped glass containers for viewing. Since then, botanists and other scientists have perfected portable terrariums to travel with plant specimens for their research. You can read a little history on terrariums and learn about why these glass boxes have become so popular over the generations.

As the plant trend expands, so does the diversity of glass planters. Now its almost impossible to walk into a craft or gardening store without seeing some variation of a terrarium, and for good reason! Terrariums are extremely beneficial to gardeners, indoor and out. The hardest part is deciding which one is best for you, thankfully www.fix.com has a helpful info-graphic about the different types of glass planters and which are best for certain plants.

I’ve learned that open-system terrariums are best for succulents and other drought-resistant plants. This is because these plants require adequate air flow and dry soil in order to flourish. Closed-system terrariums are ideal for ferns and other moisture-loving plants that need heat and humidity to thrive. So, today I’ll discuss how to build an open, dry ecosystem for succulents and other arid plants.

Tillandsia in Open Terrarium
Photo by: Selina Quick

I currently have four air plants (Tillandsia) in my glass planters and they are growing tremendously in their mini-ecosystems. Something that I love about building these environments for my arid plants is that they are so easy to make and customize. However, keep in mind that the goal is to mimic their natural environment so that they stay healthy. So with that, let’s get started:

  1. Choose your container. (Remember: succulents and other dry plants need to have airflow, so make sure there is a wide enough opening to allow your plant to breathe!)
  2. Gather supplies. — Here’s where the customizing comes in!
    • Activated Charcoal — this is primarily to improve soil and oxygen conditions inside of the container, personally I’ve skipped this step with my arid plants and haven’t had issues. I would recommend this for wet or closed terrariums though!
    • Soil Barrier — some form of netting or moss to separate the charcoal from soil.
    • Soil — sandy or quick-draining soil is ideal.
    • Plants and Decor
      • Take a look around your local gardening center or craft store, they may have different types of moss, small figurines, or even colorful pebbles that can add some personal flare to your terrarium.
  3. Build your terrarium! 
    • If you chose to purchase charcoal, this will be the first layer placed in your container and should be about 1/4 of an inch (0.6 cm) thick.
    • Gently place the soil barrier atop the charcoal, do not pack down the charcoal.
    • Lightly pour soil over the barrier until there is enough for your plant of choice.
      • I typically use a 3 to 5 inch (7 to 12 cm) thick layer of soil depending on the size of the container and plants.
      • For Tillandsia, I only use about 2 inches (5cm) of soil, as they don’t grow very long roots.
    • DO NOT PACK DOWN THE SOIL — only lightly pack soil around plant roots for security, do not pack down the remaining soil in your terrarium to allow proper air circulation. This will help prevent mold growth if your soil gets too wet.
    • Secure your plants
    • Surround plants with selected pebbles, gravel, or moss.
    • Add decor or figurines
  4. Water plants regularly!
    • Succulents — water once a week when soil is extremely dry, provide direct or partial sunlight.
    • Air Plants — carefully remove from terrarium once a week and soak in water for 1 to 2 hours. Occasionally mist terrarium with a spray bottle if soil is very dry.
Tillandsia in Open Terrarium
Photo by: Selina Quick